Handy tips for better travel photography from 7 professional photographers

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Love travel photography? But have you ever been out with your camera, thought “that looks gorgeous—the scene belongs on a picure postcard” yet failed to snap a stunning photograph? It happens. We’ve talked to professional photographers for tips on how to capture better travel images.

Hopefully these suggestions prove timely. The summer holiday season is about to get underway in Europe (including the United Kingdom, despite the result of the EU referendum) and North America. We hope you return home from vacation with a significantly better set of images than last year.

Capture bright images in snow

“Finns look forward to the arrival of the white stuff for its reflected light in the otherwise gloomy northern winter days,” says the award-winning Tim Bird, who moved to Finland in 1982 and whose work you can see at www.timbirdphotography.com.

Photo (c) Tim Bird.
Photo (c) Tim Bird.

“Automatic meters in cameras respond as if there were more light than there really is, so one has to over-expose the photo to convey the actual dazzling white that your eye perceives. Most cameras have a ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ dial for over- and under-exposure. Experiment with dialling up to + 1, + 2, even + 3. This might result in a slow shutter speed, and this can lead to blurred photos if the camera isn’t absolutely still, so use a tripod. And if it’s really chilly, keep an extra fully-charged battery in your pocket! Some batteries won’t work in sub-zero temperatures,” adds Tim, the author of Motion Pictures – a travel photographer’s companion (£):

Photograph people when you travel

“Chat with the people you meet underway and get to know them before taking photographs. Breaking the ice helps put people at ease and look themselves in portraits,” says Stuart Forster, who is based in the north-east of England.

“There’s nothing flattering about photographs in which people look tense. Spend a bit of time in the vicinity of the person you want to photograph. Tell them why you want to take the photograph. If somebody doesn’t want to be photographed then respect their choice and move on to the next person,” he adds.

See a selection of Stuart’s work on his website, www.whyeyephotography.com.

Photo © Stuart Forster
Photo © Stuart Forster

Take photographs on and near water

The award-winning photographer Frances Howarth, who specialises in yachting and maritime images, has two tips for anyone photographing on or around water.

“Always take a polarising filter, it’s great for cutting haze, deepen blue sky and removing reflections,” suggests Frances.

“If you are photographing from a boat there is always some movement so don’t let shutter speed drop below 1/500th second if possible, especially if you are using a long lens,” she adds.

See more of the work produced by Frances and her husband Michael on their website, www.thehoworths.com.

Photo © Frances Howarth
Photo © Frances Howarth

Rise early to take stunning sunrise photos

“Use a compass to check the position of the sunrise,” suggests London-based photographer Diana Jarvis.

“Of course, if you’re staying on the east coast you can be sure the sun will appear to rise over the sea. That said, it’s always worth checking a compass or the digital equivalent on your smartphone,” she adds.

“Why? A kink in the coastline—such as an inlet or an isthmus—might mean your view is dramatically altered. Check out the smartphone app The Photographer’s Ephemeris, which tells you all sorts of localised facts about your location and can help you work out what the sun will shine on as it peeps over the horizon.”

See more of Diana’s impressive portfolio on her website, www.dianajarvisphotography.co.uk.

Photo © Diana Jarvis
Photo © Diana Jarvis

Photograph on city streets

“Urban photography is often about reacting to the people, moving traffic and changing scenes around you,” says Nori Jemil, whose base is London.

“This can often pose problems for composition and exposure, so using a building or structure as a focal point and keeping yourself still in one place is a good idea. Let the environment move around you and if you do capture blurred motion you’ll still have something else nice and sharp. You’ll also have an element of the unknown as objects come in and out of view, so it keeps you on your toes as you look ahead and try to compose something interesting,” adds Nori.

Take a look at Nori’s outstanding work, in locations from Venice to Iceland, at www.norijemil.com.

Photo © Nori Jemil
Photo © Nori Jemil

Immerse yourself in the place you’re visiting

“I specialise in grass-roots sporting culture—it’s about as far removed as the “established” international sporting events as possible,” says London-based photographer Emma Levine, whose insightful images can be seen at www.emme-levine.com.

“No zoom lenses for me! My main way of getting photos is to immerse myself into the situation and get familiar with the people—and vice versa. I shoot on a pretty wide lens— perhaps 28mm or 35mm. Getting close up and shooting wide is my favourite way of capturing the ambience. Often I’ll spend many days going back to the same location, when I have the time to do that, to get a real in-depth feel of the place and its people. And there will be times when events happen spontaneously and you always have to be ready,” adds Emma.

Photo © Emma Levine
Photo © Emma Levine

Capture great photos even when the sun ain’t shining

“Don’t always look to shoot only in the best weather,” says Parikshit Rao, a well-travelled editorial photographer working from the Indian cities of New Delhi and Mumbai.

“Travel locations take on a new mood and character during ‘bad weather’ such as rain and foggy days. Of course, you’ll need to keep your camera protected against the elements. But being able to use it in such inclement weather means your vision, and your experience, takes on a new meaning and perhaps even helps to translate the nature of the place uniquely,” he adds.

You can view more of Parikshit’s on his website, www.parikshitrao.com, where you can see travel, people and food images within his beautiful online portfolio.

Photo © Parikshit Rao
Photo © Parikshit Rao

We hope these tips prove useful.

If you get some great shots, why not share some of your images with us here at MannedUp?

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